Thursday, July 25, 2013
This summer has had a string of school choice news, including the Arkansas race based transfer case, the Louisiana voucher case, Title I funding portability proposals, and the expansion of Florida's vouchers. Missouri has now added itself to the list. Missouri has a statute that permits students who attend school districts that loose their accreditation to transfer to another school district. Pursuant to the statute, a parent sought to transfer her two children from the St. Louis School District to the neighboring Clayton School District. The statute also provides that the unaccredited school district shall pay the tuition and transportation for the students to attend the other district.Interestingly, both St. Louis and Clayton objected to the transfers. The practical concern of St. Louis was the obvious loss of money to Clayton. Clayton's objection was the requirement that it potentially accept thousands of students from this failing school district, for whom it indicates it lacks the facilities and resources to educate. Moreover, the local residents of Clayton were concerned about the impact the transfers would have on their education. Of course, none of these concerns are legally relevant. Thus, both districts alleged that the statute violated the state constitution's prohibition on unfunded mandates. In Breitenfeld v. School Dist. of Clayton, 399 S.W.3d 816 (Mo. 2013), the Missouri Supreme Court rejected their arguments and remanded the case for further proceedings on other minor details, seemingly bringing this long running legal dispute to close.